Google Reader is a member of the Google family that provides easy access to RSS feeds. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. It is a way of broadcasting timely news from a single source to individuals who request a free subscription. RSS can be understood in terms of receiving a paper magazine via regular mail versus buying an issue at the newsstand.
According to wikipedia, “RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts.” RSS feeds use XML files as the software behind it – this permits a portion of a webpage’s area to be updated rather than refreshing the entire screen. RSS “Readers” can gather information from subscribed services, displaying the sites’ new material in a scrollable list.
Google Reader is an RSS Reader that shows just the most recent posts from a subscribed service. By subscribing to multiple feeds from your favorite blogs, you can stay informed without having to link to each website individually. A headline & summary text will be “fed” into a list of your subscribed sites. After you’ve read a message, or at least scrolled through the list a ways, what you’ve seen will be deleted, leaving out “yesterday’s news”.
To set up a profile in Google Reader, you can either log in to your Google account, or set up a Google account from scratch. This will be your Google Documents, Calendar, and other Google products’ login. The username is tied to your email account, and the password is determined by you. Try to make the password distinctive by including numbers and capital letters in order to keep it safe.
To request a feed to be included in your Google Reader profile, go to the webpage of the blog, then just click by their "Subscribe" icon and follow the instructions. For instance, for the “Inside Books” blog, that sometimes features images of interesting bookmarks, you would click on "Subscribe", then choose the Google button. Alternatively, if a website with a feed gives just a URL, Google Reader has an "Add Subscription" feature which allows one to copy and paste the URL to set up the feed.
As an editorial aside, I prefer using Google Reader to Bloglines, because it keeps track of how far into a blog’s content you’ve gone, in case you’re interrupted in the course of your reading. (Interruptions are a way of life in libraryland). In Bloglines, you completely lose all messages that you hadn’t scrolled to yet. I also like the font & colors better in Google Reader.